For video gamers, cognitive supplements have an edge over energy drinks

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Photo: iStock/Kerkez
Photo: iStock/Kerkez

Related tags Caffeine Energy drink

Energy and sports drink companies have heavily invested in marketing towards the video gaming community, a space which the cognitive supplement space may benefit from, according to category experts.

According to a report by CPG market research firm Packaged Facts, energy and sports drink marketers have forayed beyond the usual endorsements from athletes to “recruit celebrities from the growing world of gaming and positioning their products as performance enhancements for gaming activities.”

It’s a move that makes sense, as video gamers are more likely to be consumers of energy and sports drinks than consumers overall, according to Packaged Facts’ survey results.

Video gamers—what’s the size of the prize?

This consumer segment of video gamers, both the professionals and the hobbyists, is still in its infancy, and market researcher and analysts have yet to track the size of the group—and their wallets.

But there are indicators that marketers can refer to. For example, big firms are flocking to the community—energy drink giant Redbull​is as ubiquitous in the gaming community as it is in Formula One racing or other non-digital sports, and so is Monster​. Major soft drink brand Mountain Dew has its own product targeted for gamers​, and meal replacement brand Soylent is expanding its mark in the community rapidly​.

And while getting a US visa as an eAthlete has been difficult​, it’s not unheard of​.

“eAthletes and eSports come up a lot in the social media tracking that we do,” ​Dominic Leung, senior director of strategy at InterbrandHealth​, told NutraIngredients-USA. Professional eAthletes can make seven figures (The highest paid gamer, according to Business Insider in 2015​, was Saahil Arora with $,19m from 39 tournaments), and they have loyal followers, paving the way for sponsorship and ambassadorship for brands, Leung added.

Where cognitive supplements fit in

It’s a space where cognitive supplements can fit in squarely, observers opine, and companies in the space should act fast.

The stage and crowd at KeyArena for The International 2014, an eSport event. According to E-Sports Earnings, all the payouts for games ever falls just a bit shy of $90 million

“The growth of eSports has been exponential, and its going to be cheaper now than it will be five, 10 years down the road,” ​said a spokesperson for supplement company VitalFuse, which sponsors a professional eSports team called Team Allegiance.

Its product Fused Focus​ contains 300 mg bacopa extract, 150 mg caffeine anhydrous, 65 mg theacrine, as well as bilberry fruit powder and gingko biloba. The spokesperson said that the combination of ingredients designed for mental clarity, such as theacrine and bacopa, is what gives cognitive supplements an edge over energy drinks.

“It’s the focus part of it—when you’re competing ​[in video games], your brain is moving at such a fast paceand the reaction time is so important,”​ he said. “Having the focus element to it and not just energy really helps capture the gaming market.”

Not just energy: Supplements have more room to make substantiated structure/function claims

Another cognitive function supplement brand targeting gamers directly is the stary-up Mynd Kandy​, marketed as a nutritionist-formulated supplement in the shape of gummies to help boost mental bandwith.

It contains ‘full clinical doses’ of TeaCrine—a branded theacrine ingredient by Compound Solutions, as well as astaxanthin, wrapped in six different flavoured capsules. Compared to the energy drink companies, we have a lot more room to make substantiated structure/function claims,”​ founder and CEO Chad Frankos told NutraIngredients-USA.

“Fast and heightened cognition is the obvious component of any product like this,”​ he said. “We needed to deliver on that, but in our flavored format, we did not want to take the easy way out with caffeine. Our customers are already using caffeine. TeaCrine adds to that without added jitters.”

Additionally, the use of astaxanthin, frequently studied for its eye health benefits, means Mynd Kandy can throw in an eye fatigue reduction claim as well.

Frankos said that though prolonged screen time and quick brain reaction make the video gaming community distinct, these benefits aren’t isolated to the group. What we are finding is that the product is being used pre-gaming, but also pre-work,” ​he said.

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